Sunday, 12 October 2014

Its got to be Plan B......

For Barbarossa that is!

I was so very pleased with myself for getting the Wurttemberg cavalry last week that I failed to realise the consequences of my Zvezda purchases (BA10, T26 and Sdkfz 251B). As I said in my last post, these would be used for an early war variant of Norm Smith's Russian front rules.

I have in fact sat down with Norm's rules, which are great, and pondered how I might use them. The main problem from my perspective is the scenarios are very much 1943 orientated. My toys are very much 1941. What I really need is a set of simple scenarios that I can use to play very short games. "Aha!" I said, how about this nice set of 30 scenarios in Neil Thomas' One-hour Wargames book. Ideal, job done then?

Well not quite. The scenarios are really good, for example, Scenario 5 Bridgehead. Blue forces have discovered a river crossing in Red territory and are seeking to take it before Red can get their defences in place. Sounds like the drive on Leningrad to me, even the Blue/Red forces might be a clue. The scenarios can be stuck together in an order, or randomly to represent the campaign. Easy to play solitaire and perhaps could be played as three separate advances by Army Groups North, Centre and South and could even be interlinked.

Great but what is the problem then? Its the rules. I have decided that I want hexes and also that Neil's rules will not do what I want from a WW2 perspective. I love the small forces, army lists and variable composition but what I really want is to be able to have some shooting and killing, not just grinding down the opponent.

The solution therefore is this:

  • I use my new hex mat, six by six with each hex representing 6" square to fit Neil's scenarios.
  • One unit per hex, which ties in closely with Neil's unit sizes.
  • I want a wider force composition so instead of mortars lets have mortars or artillery, lets have AT Guns or heavy infantry (HMGs) and for tanks, lets have tanks or cavalry.
  • The units' composition can be determined randomly as per the C19 rules, so tanks could be light, medium or heavy (KV2 anyone!) or even a reconnaissance troop.
  • For order of play lets use a unit draw (six red and six black cards), perhaps with a random events card (Stukas spring to mind).
  • Then some purpose built rules, taking some lesson's from Norm's rules.

Soviet light, medium and heavy companies, on the kitchen table with optional cake tin
I have to say that I find this prospect very exciting. My current forces include:

German: 1 Pz II, 2 Pz III, 1 Pz IV, 1 Pz 38t, 1 Sdkfz 231, 2 Sdkfz 222, 1 sIG 33, 1 88, 1 Sdkfz 251, 1 beute Panhard 178, 2 Stuka, 1 Hs 126. 

Soviet: 3 T34, 1 BT5, 2 T26, 1 BA10, 1 T35, 2 Sturmovik.

Zvezda T26s and BT5, a light tank company in my book
I have mixed in suitable Axis and Allies miniatures (mainly from the second version) which look pretty good with the Zvezdas.

What about infantry? I only need four units per side. My first thought was to use some 1/72 plastics, similar to the Art of Tactic approach. Having reflected, I have now decided I want some 15mm chaps. This for me is a major departure. They would be my first ever 15mms and in metal as well. I have enjoyed having a quick look at Essex, P Pig, PSC and Battlefront. My preference is actually for Command Decision 15mm from Skytrex which are well priced and give me exactly what I need. I like the fact that the Soviet riflemen have all got fixed bayonets as was mandatory at the time. I'll stick with Zvezda for the vehicles, just on grounds of price.

So, another little diversion but one which will run alongside my Waterloo and Tanneberg projects, probably until Xmas. Once I have finished painting up my tanks, I'll be getting on with the Waterloo play test.

The cake tin contains a chocolate orange swirl cake which I'm planning to eat very soon!

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